Education: Graduated from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Honours Certificate in advanced food preparation.
Food journalist, 1985—. Also worked in restaurants in New York, NY, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1979-92.
(Translator and adaptor) Alain Senderens, The Table Beckons: Thoughts and Recipes from the Kitchen of Alain Senderens, illustrated by Izbar Cohen, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1993.
Around the American Table: Treasured Recipes and Food Traditions from the American Cookery Collections of the New York Public Library, Adams Publishing (Holbrook, MA), 1995.
The Great Little Pumpkin Cookbook, Celestial Arts (Berkeley, CA), 1998.
The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to encyclopedias, including Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, and The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries. Contributor to periodicals, including American Health, Condé Nast Traveler, Family Circle, Good Food, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, New York Newsday, Old Farmer's Almanac, Working Mother, and Saturday Night.
According to a contributor on the Spice History Web site, food journalist Michael Krondl is also a "culinary historian, cooking teacher and all-around foodie." His works, ranging from Around the American Table: Treasured Recipes and Food Traditions from the American Cookery Collections of the New York Public Library and The Great Little Pumpkin Cookbook to The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice, reflect the diversity of his interests in the areas of food and dining. "I began by studying classical French technique at a professional cooking school in Toronto (George Brown College)," Krondl told an interviewer for CookingSchools.com, "and then proceeded to work in a variety of restaurants both in Toronto and then in New York. After spending time in Italy and doing a great deal of independent research into Italian cooking, I helped open an Italian restaurant in New York. It was around this time that I realized that I did not want to spend my future in a restaurant kitchen." Krondl turned instead to writing about food, contributing articles to magazines and other periodicals, such as American Health, Family Circle, Good Food, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, and New York Newsday, and writing books.
Krondl's The Taste of Conquest links the history of food to the story of globalization in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The three cities referred to in the subtitle are Venice, Italy; Lisbon, Portugal; and Amsterdam, Netherlands; their pursuit of exotic spices, particularly black pepper, is the subject of the book. Before the fifteenth century, exotic spices from East and Southeast Asia reached Europe primarily through trade routes from the Middle East. Venetian merchants, who had longstanding connections in the eastern Mediterranean, received the spices from traders who brought it overland from India or from trading ports in Persia (now Iran), Iraq, or the Arabian Peninsula. The land-based transport was very expensive, and spices were often marked up to hundreds of times their initial value. As a result, the Venetian merchants grew very wealthy. By the mid-fifteenth century, however, Portuguese mariners were poised to find a route by sea around Africa, giving them a means to bypass both the Venetians and their Arabian suppliers. Because sea transport is much cheaper than land transport, the Portuguese expeditions made spices more affordable, which led to an explosion of European cuisine. In the mid-1600s, Dutch merchants outperformed their Portuguese rivals by creating a modern corporation, the Dutch East India Company, and took over the spice trade. Krondl points out, however, that these changes in the domination of the trade routes had an effect that stretched far beyond the tables of Europeans. The spice trade led to the establishment of European colonies throughout the world and helped create the modern global system of commerce and conflict. "The taste for spice of a few wealthy Europeans," concluded a Fresh Fiction reviewer, "led to great crusades, astonishing feats of bravery, and even wholesale slaughter."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1993, Barbara Jacobs, review of The Table Beckons: Thoughts and Recipes from the Kitchen of Alain Senderens, p. 237.
Early American Homes, February 1, 1997, review of Around the American Table: Treasured Recipes and Food Traditions from the American Cookery Collections of the New York Public Library, p. 37.
CookingSchools.com,http://www.cookingschools.com/ (August 14, 2008), "Interview with Michael Krondl, Food Writer."
Fresh Fiction,http://freshfiction.com/ (August 14, 2008), review of The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice.
Spice History Web site,http://spicehistory.net/ (August 14, 2008), author profile.